Nineteen months at Lord’s

Today is my last day working at Lord’s.  I’m off to a new job at Southwark Council.

Working here has been an amazing experience and I thought I’d share a few highlights with you –

1. The Long Room on Match Days

Being in the long room on match days is a real pinch yourself/shivers down the spine moment, probably for everyone, but particularly for someone who is never ever going to be a member of the MCC.  During most matches I find an excuse to pop across, taking some leaflets or making a vital check that the paintings are hanging straight!  My favourite moment by far was seeing Strauss and Cook go out to bat on the first morning of my first test at Lord’s.

It's just a bit busier than this on match days!

It’s just a bit busier than this on match days.

2. The collection

Less obvious perhaps – but I think my very favourite thing about being at Lord’s has been working with the collection.  I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made getting it catalogued and in some kind of order and I’ve loved all the unexpected ‘gems’ I’ve found along the way.

Dedicated librarian at work

Dedicated librarian at work

You can see some of the results of my work, and that of the rest of the cataloguing team, on our on-line catalogue.   (http://mcc.adlibhosting.com/).    New entries are being added all the time.

3. Taking the Field visits.

Running Taking the Field has been fabulous all round, but I especially enjoyed getting out there and visiting some of the clubs.  Particular highlights were the beautiful Wirksworth and Middleton in Derbyshire (www.takingthefield.com/clubs/wirksworth-middleton-cricket-club) and warm, friendly Ovington in York (www.takingthefield.com/clubs/ovington-cricket-club).

Ovington playing on the Knavesmire.  It was hot and sunny everytime I went there - convincing me that it must always be like that in York.

Ovington playing on the Knavesmire. It was hot and sunny every time I went there – convincing me that it must always be like that in York.

Wirksworth & MIddleton.  They had the most virbrant youth section I saw anywhere and are based in such a beautiful part of the country.

Wirksworth & MIddleton. They had the most vibrant youth section I saw anywhere and are based in such a beautiful part of the country.

4. People

My next highlight is all the people I’ve got to meet here.  It was great bumping into past and present stars of the game on a daily basis such as Sir Ian Botham, Stuart Broad, Kevin Pietersen, Nasser Hussain, Mike Brearley – and of course meeting my all time hero Andrew Strauss.  But even better was getting to know my wonderful colleagues who mean more to me than all the cricket celebrities in the world (everyone now, 1…2…3… ‘aahhhh’)

Here's me with Rob our superstar archivist who I'm going to miss loads.

Here’s me with Rob our superstar archivist who I’m going to miss loads.

Rob at work with Alan the other archivist.

Rob at work with Alan the other archivist.

Andrew, my fellow librarian.  We formed a life long bond working together for the first few months crammed into a long narrow windowless corridor full of cardboard boxes of unsorted uncatalgued annuals.

Andrew, my fellow librarian. We formed a life long bond working together for the first few months crammed into a long narrow windowless corridor full of cardboard boxes of unsorted uncatalgued annuals.

Liz, a dedicated and knowledgable cricket fan and fantastic cricket photographer.

Liz, a dedicated and knowledgable cricket fan and fantastic cricket photographer.

Rowan, a former archivist who knew absolutely nothing about cricket.  So little that when we were once taling about where to put the model of Sachin Tendulkar she thought we were refering to the man to her right wearing the hat!

Rowan, a former archivist who knew absolutely nothing about cricket. So little that when we were once talking about where to put the model of Sachin Tendulkar she thought we were referring to the man to her right wearing the hat!

5. Lord’s in winter

There’s nothing quite like watching cricket at Lord’s on a beautiful summers day, but when you see the ground in mid-winter you feel like you’re really part of the place and are getting a proper behind the scenes view.  I am sad I won’t get to experience that again this year.

whole ground in snow

So goodbye to Lord’s and goodbye to everyone following my blog.

5 Comments

Filed under archive, club cricket, Cricket, cricket grounds, goodbye, Librarianship, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, test cricket

The World Cup Effect (1987-1992)

Here’s part II of my World Cup Story.


The 1987 World Cup was the first staged outside England, so this could perhaps be regarded as the first time the tournament was a truly international event.  It was staged by India and Pakistan under the slogan “Cricket for Peace”, chosen in reflection of the turbulent relationship that had often existed between the two nations since the 1947 partition.  The title holders India, playing under home conditions, were favourites for victory closely followed by their co-hosts Pakistan – but again the event was won by the outsiders, this time Australia.  The final was played out between England and Australia, anti-British feeling left from the colonial days still ran high in parts of India and the crowd really got behind Australia which Australian Captain Allan Border acknowledge had been a big help and encouragement.  The victory was a real turning point for Australia, who had spent quite some time in the doldrums, and was the beginning of an extraordinary period of success for the national team.

With their own team out of the competition the Indian fans really got behind the Aussie outsiders.

With their own team out of the competition the Indian fans really got behind the Aussie outsiders.

WORLD CUP EFFECT 4 – The spirit of India gives Australia back it’s Mojo back – and it stayed in place for quite some time!

Dual hosts again for the 1992 World Cup, this time New Zealand and Australia.  Staged in the homeland of Kerry Packer this was the first World Cup to feature coloured clothing, white balls and floodlights.  Another notable feature of this tournament was that it marked South Africa’s return to the international cricketing fold after around 2 decades in the wilderness.  Their entry was actually quite last minute and the organisers had to rewrite the fixtures to accommodate them!

Wonderful picture of the colourfully dressed teams with a fantastic backdrop (although if you look carefully you'll notice the weather already looks pretty threatening!)

Wonderful picture of the colourfully dressed teams with a fantastic backdrop (although you might notice the weather already looks pretty ominous!)

Australia had had a busy summer of regular international cricket and had not made any allowances in schedule for the fact they were hosting the World Cup, therefore the tournament was played very late in the season and many matches were effected by rain.  These were the days before Duckworth/Lewis but for the tournament to progress results were needed so the ‘Rain Rule’ was introduced –

(a) The runs scored by the team batting second shall be compared with the runs scored by the team batting first from the equivalent number of highest scoring overs.

(b) If, due to a suspension of play, the number of overs in the innings of the team batting second has to be revised, their target score shall be the runs scored by the team batting first from the equivalent number of overs, plus one.

Confused?  I know I am!  An example of how (badly) it worked can be seen in one of the warm up games – India bowled out Victorian Country XI for just 156, India were then cruising nicely to their target at 129-3 after 31 overs when it began to rain hard…India were declared to have lost!  The unfairness of the rain rule was to be felt by teams throughout the tournament.

The new 'Rain Rule' lead to some very strange calculations.

The new ‘Rain Rule’ lead to some very strange calculations.

The victors this time were Pakistan.  Unlike India and Australia before them their victory did not herald a gold age in cricket for the nation but was to begin a period of marked decline.

WORLD CUP EFFECT 5 – lots of choice from this eventful World Cup but I’m going to go with the most obvious and visual – the bright lights and coloured clothing that was to change the look of international limited overs from that point on.

Next time:  What happened next?  The 1996 World Cup – I predict a riot.  

(Bibliography – Wisden History of the Cricket World Cup edited by Tony Cozier,  World Cup: Cricket’s Clash of the Titans by Peter Baxter)

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, British Empire, Cricket, cricket balls, Cricket World Cup, England, India, one day cricket, Pakistan

The World Cup effect (1975-1983)

In my latest TTF story Kushil Gunasekera from the Foundation of Goodness talks about one of the effects the 1996 Cricket World Cup had on his country’s cricket – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/new-avenues – it helped promote the game to rural areas in a way not seen before.  It got me wondering about the effect other Cricket World Cups might have had on their hosts, and the effect of the Cricket World Cup on cricket in general.

The first Cricket World Cup was in 1975 in England.  Tony Cozier described the event as “…the boldest and most ambitious innovation since the legalisation of overarm bowling.”  Was he right?  Did it really have such a massive effect?

Excited crowds invade the pitch at the end of the final.

The first Cricket World Cup really captured the public’s imagination.  Here excited crowds invade the pitch at the end of the final.

1975 – Limited Overs One Day Cricket had been introduced just a few years earlier, but perhaps the tournament did do a lot to cement it’s place in cricketing tradition.  It also introduced the format to parts of the cricketing world who were unfamiliar with it, such as India – who attempted to to play out their first game for a draw!  An important aspect of this first World Cup was the fact it was so popular.  It was very successful.  The tournamanet was helped by the fact that England was enjoying it’s hottest summer in around 30 years and luckily the matches were close and exciting.  The event made money, a lot of money relative to this time – around £200,000 from ticket sales and £100,000 from sponsorship.  How different things might have been had it rained and the crowds stayed away, perhaps Kerry Packer would not have been inspired and perhaps the really forceful commercialisation of limited-overs cricket (see previous post The Birth of Carnival Cricket) may never have happened.

WORLD CUP EFFECT ONE: Limited overs cricket introduced to the world on a big stage.

Teams line up at Lord's ready to compete in the 2nd Cricket World Cup in 1979.

Teams line up at Lord’s ready to compete in the 2nd Cricket World Cup in 1979.

1979 – The 2nd Cricket World Cup of 1979 was a post-Packer affair.  The Packer affair did have a direct impact on this Cricket World Cup with several of the best Australian players out of favour for signing up for World Series Cricket.  The Australian teams was therefore a much depleted one, containing several unknowns and the team did not perform well.  Another notable feature was the choice of host country, England again, despite interest in hosting coming from India and the West Indies.  England was chosen over these rivals by the ICC – run by the MCC – based at Lord’s…hmmm – eyebrows were raised but England it was again.  And again the Cricket World Cup was a big financial success and with the issue of player’s pay very much in the arena due to the Packer affair many players felt that their pay packets didn’t reflect the amount of money being made (the victorious West Indians were paid £350 each for the whole tournament).

WORLD CUP EFFECT TWO: Demands from players for better pay gains significant momentum.

India were not expected to win the World Cup but crushed the West Indies in the final.  The victory delighted Indian fans ignited a passion for the shorter format.

India were not expected to win the World Cup but crushed the West Indies in the final. The victory delighted Indian fans ignited a passion for the shorter format.

The next Cricket World Cup in 1983 (hosted by…you guessed it – England!) was to have a massive effect on world cricket for this was the tournament that began the Indian love affair with one-day cricket.

“One deplorable consequence of India’s 1983 victory was an overnight change in the subcontinent’s cricket culture.  Hitherto, one-day cricket had no appeal to speak of there, while domestic first-class matches drew substantial crowds, and Test matches usually played to full houses.  But soon Test-match attendances, even in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata – cities with deep-rooted cricketing traditions – showed a fall, while frenzied, jingoistic crowds packed grounds for one-day games.”  Dicky Ritnagur.

India’s surprise victory captured the nation’s imagination and there was to be no turning back.  The subcontinent’s new post as guardian’s of this lucrative form of cricket may also have had a knock on effect of swinging power from West to East and helping India gain the power and influence they wield over cricket today.

WORLD CUP EFFECT THREE: India’s love of shorter form cricket.

I've won the World Cup!  This trophy used in the 1975, 79 & 83 World Cup's can be seen in the MCC Museum.

I’ve won the World Cup! This trophy used in the 1975, 79 & 83 World Cup’s can be seen in the MCC Museum.

…next time, more cups and more effects!

(Bibliography – The History of the Cricket World Cup by Mark Baldwin,  Wisden History of the Cricket World Cup edited by Tony Cozier, Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack 1976 edited by Norman Preston, A Complete History of World Cup Cricket 1975 – 1999 by Mark Browning.  All these books are available in the MCC Library.)

3 Comments

Filed under Cricket, Cricket World Cup, digital stories, England, History, India, London, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, MCC, one day cricket, oral history, Sri Lanka, test cricket

Cricket in strange places

Members of Darjeeling Cricket Club, based in Dubai.

Members of Darjeeling Cricket Club, based in Dubai.

This week I added a new club to the TTF site – http://www.takingthefield.com/clubs/darjeeling-cricket-club – Darjeeling Cricket Club is the first from United Arab Emirates to feature on the site.  Dubai, where they are based, is not traditionally a cricketing city, although recently they have hosted some international games involving Pakistan.  They have also hosted the annual Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes popular amateur cricket contest (http://www.chiangmaisixes.com/) based in Thailand – and I certainly didn’t know cricket was a big thing over there.

There have been many efforts to spread cricket to every corner of the globe, with mixed success.  Obviously some commonwealth nations have entirely embraced it and made it their own, India, Australia and South Africa etc, other parts of the commonwealth not so much, i.e. Canada.  Ovington’s own Liam Herringshaw experienced the introduction of cricket to Newfoundland you can read more about it here – http://theindependent.ca/2013/02/15/how-to-seduce-newfoundlanders-into-liking-cricket/.  Cricket in Canada is nothing new however, it’s been played there for a long time it’s just never really taken off in a big way (I think the cold weather might well have played a part!).  MCC toured there quite a bit throughout the last century and we have scorecards in the archive to prove it.

Score book from MCC's 1937 tour of Canada.  This is the score of MCC v All Toronto 2nd August 1937.

Score book from MCC’s 1937 tour of Canada. This is the score of MCC v All Toronto 2nd August 1937.

Cricket did used to be quite healthy in the USA.  The world’s 1st dedicated cricket magazine was an American publication and there were a lot of early English tours to the States but then baseball took over and cricket was consigned to being a quirky minority sport.

The American Cricketer ran from 1877-1929.  The world's first cricket magazine.  We have a full set in the MCC library.

The American Cricketer ran from 1877-1929. The world’s first cricket magazine. We have a full set in the MCC library.

Heading down to South America we find a similar scene, cricket was once very popular in some places, particularly Argentina – but football is now very much the dominant sport in that continent.

The MCC team about to set off on their long voyage to South America and a programe from their 1926 tour to Argentina.  From Gubby Allen's scrap book, now held in the MCC archive.

The MCC team about to set off on their long voyage to South America and a programe from their 1926 tour to Argentina. From Gubby Allen’s scrap book, now held in the MCC archive.

And what about Europe?  The Netherlands and Ireland have quite a lively cricket scene, but I’m not sure it’s made much progress elsewhere beyond a few ex-pat clubs scattered about.

Cricket is played in places you might not expect - Here's France's national cricket team tie.

Cricket is played in places you might not expect – Here’s France’s national cricket team tie.

I love to hear from more people who play cricket in ‘strange’ places, or from any of you who have any theories as to why it flourishes in some nations but not others.

2 Comments

Filed under archive, British Empire, Cricket, MCC, UAE

Other sports

I have tried to get into other sports - but cricket is the only one for me!

I have tried to get into other sports – but cricket is the only one for me!

I don’t mind a bit of tennis but apart from that cricket is the only sport I like.  I think football is frightful (I hate the noise, and don’t understand all that running about or why the crowd are so excited the whole time), I don’t really get athletics as a spectator sport either especially the running, I mean I quite like running myself but why anyone would want to watch people running fast in a straight line is beyond me.  Other sports I just find generally uninteresting.  I realise this attitude puts me in the minority, most cricket fans do enjoy other sports.

I found an example of this in my latest TTF digital story (http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/squash-tennis-hockey-and-more) where two Wimbledon CC members discuss the club’s strong relationship with other sports – and this is not unusual.  Even at the highest level of cricket players can be multi-skilled.  The relationship between football and cricket used to be especially close in the days before cricket was a 12 months of the year occupation.  Football used to be viewed as a good way for county cricketers to keep fit in the winter.  Some players even played to a professional level in both sports.

Denis Compton: cricket AND football star.

Denis Compton: cricket AND football star.

The most famous example is probably Denis Compton who, on top of his cricket heroics, played football for Arsenal and England and wrote a coaching manual on football.  He cites one of the main draws of this dual career (aside from love of the game) as the financial benefits.

“Professional football, providing you make some headway and join a good club, can be a most happy medium by which one earns a living.  Especially, from a financial point of view, is it worth dove-tailing with cricket, for a man at the top of the  ladder receives £12 a week during the soccer season, plus £2 for a win, and £1 for a draw, and during the summer – again if he is on top pay – £10 a week.”

From ‘Playing for England’ by Denis Compton

I guess sport didn’t pay quite so well back then, these days most pick just one sport but there’s still quite a long list of footballing cricketers.  We have a football medal in the MCC museum collection that was presented to Jack Hobbs, Ian Botham played for Scunthorpe United and Viv Richards played in the 1974 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for Antigua – to give just a few examples.

Football medal awarded to Jack Hobbs in 1905 - now held in the MCC Museum

Football medal awarded to Jack Hobbs in 1906 – now held in the MCC Museum

(Bibliography – Playing for England by Denis Compton, Cricket in Summer, Football in Winter by Kevin Moore published in the MCC Magazine issue 5)

2 Comments

Filed under Cricket, digital stories, England, football, History

Questions in the House

“It is surely right that the House should discuss the burning topic of the South African cricket tour, which has aroused such grave anxiety throughout this county…”

(MP Philip Noel-Baker, quoted in Hansard 14th May 1970)

As a boy Andrew Redfern caused a mini political scandal with his letter to a government minister – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/scandal-started-youth-cricket. The relationship between politics and cricket goes back along way, despite the desire of some to separate politics and sport.  Both are important parts of life stiring strong emotions so this ‘ideal’ rarely exists.

Tony Blair

Possibly the most famous incident of cricket and politics colliding was during the D’Olivera affair.  ‘Non-white’ cricketer Basil D’Oliveira was not selected for the test side due to tour South Africa 1968-69, despite having scored 158 not out against the Australians just a few days before the selection meeting.  The selection committee maintained that their decision was purely based on cricketing considerations including an assertion that D’Olivera’s style would not suit the South African conditions, but many suspected that the decision had more to do with ‘not rocking the boat’.  Under South African laws D’Olivera would not have been permitted to play on a South African tour.

“We will not allow mixed teams to play against our white teams here.”

(South African Minister of the Interior, January 1967)

His omission from the team drew the attention of the general public.  When another player dropped out of the tour due to injury there was great pressure on the MCC to replace him with D’Olivera, which they did – South African Prime Minister Vorster then banned the tour stating…

“It’s not the MCC team.  It’s the team of the anti-apartheid movement…it’s the team of political opponents of South Africa.  It is a team of people who don’t care about sports relations at all.”

In 1970 cricket was debated extensively in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  A full account of the debates can be found in Hansard.

In 1970 cricket was debated extensively in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A full account of the debates can be found in Hansard, these copies are from the MCC Archive.

The South African’s were due to tour England the following year, but the ‘Stop the Seventy Tour’ campaign was launched with protests and threats of direct action and the tour was eventually cancelled after a direct appeal to the Cricket Council from the Home Secretary James Callaghan.

This was not the first time politicians became involved in the game.  During the bodyline scandal the friendly relations existing between England and Australia were under threat as a sporting tactic transformed into a near diplomatic incident!  During the furious exchange of telegrams between the two cricket boards the press and politicians such as the Governor of South Australia Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven and Stanley Baldwin also became invovled and it was alledge that there were formal discussions in the cabinet by both nations.  Why bodyline became so political is a murky issue, many members of the MCC committee had strong links to the Conservative Party which may have had some effect, also for some Australian nationalists the tactic was symbolic of English imperialistic and authoritarian attitudes.

Rather glib little momento of the 'Bodyline' series from the MCC Museum.  The series came close to upseting relations between two countries.

A rather glib little momento of the ‘Bodyline’ series from the MCC Museum. The series came close to upseting relations between two countries.

As in Andrew Redfern’s youth, the issue of cricket in state schools is still seen as a political issue today, especially as we live in a time when fewer players from working class origins reach the top than probably in any time of the cricket’s history (see previous post – Is cricket Posh?).  Many state schools do not have the space or facilities to provide cricket, and the problem was exacerbated by the sale of playing fields in the 1980s and 90s.

So whether it’s race, class or international relations cricket has often proved a political hot potato.

(Bibliography – Anyone but England: Cricket and the National Malaise by Mike Marqusee.  Bodyline by Philip Derriman.  Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith.  All available in the MCC Library)

2 Comments

Filed under archive, Ashes series, Australia, British Empire, class, Cricket, digital stories, England, History, MCC, MCC, politics, school cricket, test cricket

Found it

(See previous post to make sense of this)

I was wrong, we do have the blue ball.  My manager Neil found it for me straight away.

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

It’s a lovely colour, and not scary at all.  I can see how it would totally get lost against the grass though.

2 Comments

Filed under Cricket, cricket balls, MCC, women's cricket